James DeVellis, as an orthopedic surgeon, has seen it all in his years of service. The proverbial old fox who busted his knee while dancing as if he was still 30 years old, a younger person voluntarily coming in for a full hip replacement because of misconduct during teenage years, allegations of doctor shopping, and more. Not a day goes by that there isn’t a news story of orthopedic surgery work, mainly due to the ageing population. Yet there continue to be many people who don’t really understand what orthopedic surgeons are and what they do.
James DeVellis on Why Someone May Need an Orthopedic Surgeon
Orthopedic surgeons treat a variety of conditions from stiff neck muscles to spinal injuries. Each year, some 135 million ambulatory visits are made to health clinics, 488 millions days of work are lost, over 3 million hospitalizations are conducted, and the health care budget has to account for $245 billion for orthopedic conditions alone. Indeed, 14% of the entire health care budget is spent on orthopedics.
What Is an Orthopedic Surgeon?
These are specialists that diagnose, treat, rehabilitate, and prevent diseases, disorders, and injuries to the musculoskeletal system. That is comprised of bones and joints, but also tendons, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. Most of the time, orthopedic surgeons specialize in just one part of the body or on a specific type of injury.
Education and Training of Orthopedic Specialists
An orthopedic surgeon spends around 14 years taking part in formal education:
- Four years at college.
- Four years at medical school.
- Five years of orthopedic studies through residency.
- One year specialization.
They must also become board certified, which means they have to be peer reviewed and pass various examinations administered by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Recertification is required every 10 years, for which they must demonstrate continuous professional education.
Conditions Treated by an Orthopedic Surgeon
Depending on their specialization, these surgeons can treat people of any age and for any condition relating to the musculoskeletal systems. This includes acute, chronic, and congenital problems. Usually, they will work with one patient for an extensive period of time. They also engage in public health education. Some of the most commonly treated conditions, however, include:
- Toe and finger abnormalities.
- Scoliosis, sciatica, ruptured discs, and back pain.
- Cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and bone tumors.
- Congenital deformities of the legs and feet.
- Dislocations and fractures.
- Growth abnormalities.
- Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Occupational and sports injuries.
- Tears, sprains, and strains.
Surgeries Performed by Orthopedic Surgeons
These specialists also perform surgeries. Wherever possible, these are keyhole procedures, using robotics and 3D imaging. Common procedures include:
- Internal fixation.
- Joint replacement.
- Soft tissue repair.
What to Expect from a Visit
If you have been referred to an orthopedic surgeon, you will usually go through an interview, a review of your medical history, and a short physical. Based on that, further tests and examinations are likely to be ordered. After that, the most appropriate treatment will be identified.